Bulldogs limit mistakes, make big plays down stretch in win at UNLV

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Fresno State’s Deon Stroud dunks against UNLV during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Entering Wednesday, the Fresno State men’s basketball team had not beaten a Mountain West opponent currently ahead of them in the conference standings.

However, the Bulldogs put an end to that trend, putting together arguably, their best performance of the year in a 67-64 win at UNLV on Wednesday night.

Fresno State (10-9, 8-9) got a season-high 19 points from Isaiah Hill and Deon Stroud added 18 points, including a spectacular second half dunk that is sure to make the rounds on the sports highlight shows.

Stroud’s monstrous dunk came with the Bulldogs trailing 48-42 in the second half, but was the first basket of a 11-2 Fresno State run that put the Bulldogs up 53-50 with 8:58 left.

UNLV fought back to grab a 61-60 lead on a Bryce Hamilton jumper with 1:44 left, but Stroud responded with two big baskets on Fresno State’s next two possessions to give Fresno State a 64-61 lead with only :35 seconds to play. The Bulldogs hung on from there, to inch a little closer to UNLV (10-12, 7-8 MW) in the battle for sixth place in the conference standings.

Hill was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, and 8-of-9 at the free throw line, and the Bulldogs also got 12 points and 8 rebounds from Anthony Holland.

“I thought we stuck together and when it was time to make big plays we made a few,” said Bulldogs head coach Justin Hutson. “They made a few also, but we responded.  I really liked our response tonight and I like how we played down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs leading scorer Orlando Robinson finished with 12 points, but got there on only 3-of-11 shooting.

As a team, the Bulldogs made 10 3-pointers, significantly above their season average of 6.3 three’s a game, and turned it over only six times, well below their season average of 14.4 turnovers per game.

The Bulldogs also were terrific at the free throw line — a place where they normally struggle — making 17-of-23 overall.

Bryce Hamilton led the Rebels with a game-high 27 points.

These two teams will meet again on Friday at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Tipoff is again scheduled for 8 p.m. It’s being televised by the CBS Sports Network.

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